|dc.description.abstract||This study has sought to identify connectedness for Māori students within the alternative-education, learning environment and the effect this has had on their self-efficacy. Alternative education in New Zealand is described as a place where second chance learners have access to education (Alternative Education National Body New Zealand, 2016). Generally, students are referred to alternative education due to becoming habitual truants, while other students are deemed as behaviourally-challenging, and are consequently excluded from school (Education Review Office, 2010; Ministry of Education, 2016a). A Critical Theory approach was employed guided by Kaupapa Māori methodology. Data was collected using the qualitative methods of focus-group interviews and one-to-one semi-structured interviews. An open-coded approach was adopted to analyse the data from the interview transcripts where themes were selected, and a summary reflection was written.
Three distant themes were identified during the data analysis phase: Tāhuhu Kōrero – Kura; Alternative Education – Kura; and Alternative Education Teaching and Learning Approaches. Within these themes sub-themes were explored: perceptions and experiences of primary and secondary school; Māori in mainstream education; the referring schools involvement; misconceptions; connection to the alternative-education, learning environment; centre and teacher practices; connection with Māori; and pathways, mana, and self-efficacy. An important aspect of this study was to seek to understand these students’ prior educational experiences before gathering their narratives on the alternative-education, learning environment. This was a strength of the study as the student narratives on their entire educational journey provided a depth of understanding for the researcher, and went towards explaining their disconnection, how it happened, and gave context to their referral to alternative education.
The student narratives expressed a strong sense of connection to their primary-school, learning environment, however, a complete disconnection to their secondary-school, learning environment. Students expressed feeling discriminated against for being Māori, that there was no empathy or understanding given to their lived realities despite wanting to succeed at school. They felt that their teachers did not make an effort to connect with them describing a power imbalance between the teachers and themselves. The students felt that expectations were low, and that teachers could not be bothered to help them with their work. The student participants attributed this disconnection to the reason for their truancy and behavioural issues. The student narratives on the alternative-education, learning environment described an environment that was: whānau; where teachers worked at a connection and understood their learners; challenging them academically; where the teachers were highly committed to their students; where trust and respect was built; and where one size did not fit all - flexibility was exercised. Students felt that the alternative-education, learning environment provided them with career ambition, and academic confidence resulting in self-efficacy.
This study provides student voice from a group that was overlooked within the Te Kotahitanga research project (Bishop, Berryman, Tiakiwai, & Richardson, 2003). To hear the voice of alternative education students is important in seeking to improve educational success and enjoyment for Māori priority learners. If we get to know and understand what works for these priority learners, we can then work towards making a difference for them within mainstream education. This study aims to identify the importance of connectedness for Māori students and how connectedness will positively affect Māori learners and their self-efficacy.
Kia mau ki tō Māoritanga.
Hold fast to your Māori culture.||